We are delighted to welcome Marina Linehan of Marina’s Home to thread… a festival of textiles on Saturday 30th June. As a first-time exhibitor, we caught up with her to find out more about her, her business and what she is looking forward to at this year’s festival.
Q: Hi Marina, could you tell us a bit more about yourself and what you do?
I create contemporary needlepoint designs and sell them as kits. For many years, I was a commercial interior designer working on hotel and office projects, but came to a point where I needed a complete change. I was happy to stay in the world of design, but in a different capacity. Now I really feel like I’ve found my niche.
Some little bits of trivia about me: I’m originally from Essex (no jokes about white stilettos, please!) and now live in London, my dad is Italian and I havea gorgeous little Parson Russell Terrier called Paddy.
Q; How have you had the idea of designing needlepoints kits? For years, my mum has enjoyed doing needlepoint as a hobby, so I’ve grown up around it. She has always made her needlepoint projects into cushions for friends and family and she was itching to make me something. However, her taste is quite traditional and, being an interior designer, I’m quite picky! I had the idea of designing my own set of needlepoint cushions so that she could stitch them for me. From there, I had the idea of selling the designs as kits.
Q: How would you/ could you describe your kits in 3 words?
I would say they are fresh, colourful and contemporary.
Q: What is in each kit?
Each kit comprises canvas, tapestry wools, needles, coloured charts and full instructions. It’s then completely up to personal choice whether to make your finished needlepoint into a cushion or a framed artwork (both of which look gorgeous), or something else entirely.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration from?
My biggest design inspirations are mid-century design (furniture, ceramics, lighting and graphic design) and contemporary Scandinavian design. I absolutely love design that is clean, simple and elegant, but I also enjoy the playful and quirky side of designers such as Jonathan Adler.
Q: Who are your kits aimed at? Can a beginner do them?
Needlepoint is actually a really easy craft to pick up and you can get fantastic results from such a simple process. I think there’s a real misconception that it’s difficult to do, or a bit scary to try, but I think that’s because people aren’t familiar with it. I’ll be launching my range of mini kits at Thread, which are ideal for beginners, or for anyone who wants a quick project to do.
Q: When did you set up your business ? What do you like the most about running it?
I set up my business in September 2017. I’d had the idea designing needlepoint kits for quite some time and had already done a lot of the groundwork, but I hadn’t taken the final plunge. Last year, I decided to stop hesitating and put my first three designs on Etsy to see what happened. Happily, people seem to like what I do, so I’ve carried on.
I genuinely enjoy that I get to do a real variety of things on a daily basis, which is the reality of running your own small business. Obviously, I love designing and stitching, but I’ve also enjoyed having to get to grips with IT and technology, which don’t come naturally to me. For instance, I designed my own simple website and it felt like such an achievement once I’d done it.
Q: On your blog, you mentioned building a community of designer-makers and artists. Why have you initiated this project and how is it going?
I love what I do, but it can feel a bit isolating when you work for yourself. I really wanted to join a local group of designer-makers and artists, to discuss ideas and to swap notes on things such as social media, Etsy and exhibiting at fairs. I did lots of searching on the internet for a group, but couldn’t find anything. I posted a message on nextdoor.co.uk and asked whether anyone would be interested in forming a collective and I had an overwhelmingly positive response! We’re now called Chiswick Creatives and we’re planning to hold our own Christmas Makers’ Fair this year. We have designers, makers and artists from all different disciplines and it feels great to be part of a local community.
Q: We also read in your blog that you use a “Dream Plan Do” journal. Would you like to explain to our readers what it is and share one of your dreams?
The “Dream Plan Do” journal is a great idea, created by a lady called Patricia van den Akker. It’s a tool aimed at creatives to help them think more strategically about their businesses. We know that creative people are brilliant at what they do, but often this doesn’t translate into running a successful venture. The journal helps you to set achievable goals for the year; to look at your finances, to focus your attention on the important things and to express what your aspirations are for the future.
My own dream is to establish Marina’s Home as a recognisable, high-quality brand and to contribute to the resurgence of needlepoint (along with more established designers such as Emily Peacock and Hannah Bass). I would also love to see my kits on the shelves at Liberty in London, so that’s one for the future!
Q: You are a new exhibitor to thread. Why did you choose to take part and what are you looking forward to most about the festival?
I felt that Thread would be an ideal festival for me, as it’s relatively specialised. Contemporary needlepoint is still a bit of a niche market at the moment (as opposed to crafts such as cross stitch, knitting and crochet), but I think the visitors who come to Thread are the kind of people who would appreciate my work. One of my friends (Debbie Orr, who owns Skein Queen) is a regular exhibitor at unravel and I’d heard very good things about Farnham Maltings from her.
What I’m most looking forward to is meeting the public and the other exhibitors! Selling online is a fantastic tool, but there’s nothing like meeting people face-to-face, especially for feedback and comments. There’s also real camaraderie between exhibitors at fairs and I’m looking forward to being part of that. Thread, here I come!
Marina’s Home is one of the many exhibitors in the thread marketplace. More details and a full exhibitor listings are available here
Further details on the talk, exhibition, participation sessions and the workshop programme will be added on the thread pages here in the forthcoming weeks. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Twitter @maltingscraft and Facebook to keep up to date with news on the festival
thread 2018…a festival of textiles is on Sat 30 June l 9am-6pm. The day tickets are on sale here!